WDN – (excerpts)
– Those of us who know the President of Somali Regional State of Ethiopia, Abdi Iley, therefore, can be excused if we do not get stunned one bit by the callousness and lewd criminality of the man, as the reign of terror he has been waging on the people of the region for the last five years came to the eyes of the world in the last few weeks. This month of September, gruesome videotapes were smuggled out of Ethiopia by Iley’s own former camera-man, Abdullahi Hussien, who defected from the regime.

Iley is a former porter of electric cables and part-time electrician who was suddenly catapulted to the pinnacles of power and has started mistaking human lives for electric bulbs. An electric bulb can be broken, smothered, smashed even, without suffering the reflexive agony of guilt, compassion, or concern. For Iley, the lives of human beings – including aging men, pregnant women and cheery children, can be ended unfeelingly the same way the light of electric bulbs can be extinguished. The evidence is Malqaqa.

When cruel power bonds with venal subsidiary

The damning videos I alluded to above also show the staged capture of Swedish journalists; Liyu Police commanders confessing to killing civilians; Iley’s bodyguards kicking and dancing over dead bodies; and Iley beaming and posing for pictures next to dead people. It also shows an old man in Malqaqa grapping a microphone by force and shouting that “the Liyu police are killing people in all villages”. Abdullahi Hussen, who is seen in the video walking next to President Iley, says that the old man was “taken away” by Liyu Police but that he “doesn’t know what happened to the old man”.

None of these violations would have made Meles Zenawi, the later dictator, sack Iley. It is foolish to assume Zenawi did not know about these misdeeds. You see, Zenawi may have been politically efficient and academically proficient, but he was morally deficient. Zenawi acquired the first lessons on political morality in the battlefields, where maiming and killing the enemy often meant saving own. After all, Zenawi himself ordered the execution of more than 250 demonstrators, mostly children, in Addis Ababa during the 2005 elections. Killing real or perceived enemies is admissible in the religion of despotism, which Zenawi practiced.

But Zenawi is not Iley. Zenawi symbolizes cruel power. Iley personifies venal power. A cruel power is capable of killing enemies and annihilating innocent bystanders, but it doesn’t stand on the lifeless body of its victims. It doesn’t advertise its cruelty by cutting the ears of its living victims. If and when it does that, it ceases to be cruel only, it becomes vile, amoral. Cruel power alone can be so deadly. When it holds hands with venal subsidiary power, it gets ghastly. That explains the horrors in Somali region (Ogaden). Malqaqa is the outcome of a lethal fusion of cruel and venal powers.

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